Author Interview: Sunyi Dean

2018-08-28 · by Stewart C Baker
tagged Blog / Interviews

Sunyi Dean is a writer of speculative fiction, currently living in the UK. Some of her other stories can be found lurking suspiciously in the pages of FFO, Andromeda Spaceways, and Aurealis. Sunyi is the author of our August game, John Kills Jenny.

This interview was conducted via e-mail in August of 2018.

Author Sunyi Dean

sub-Q Magazine: What does interactive fiction mean to you?

Sunyi Dean: Cutting edge or modern are descriptors that spring to mind. Everything is increasingly interactive in modern life, so it makes sense that fiction would be, too. Japanese “visual novels” are a good example of the medium expanding into new ground, and gaining solid fanbases.

sub-Q: “John Kills Jenny” takes a pretty dark look at freedom of choice versus predetermination. Do you think we’re destined to make the choices we do?

Sunyi: I don’t believe in free will. It doesn’t make any logical sense to me. In a universe where every effect has a cause, all facets of our existence–from personality, to circumstances, to life experiences, and more–are part of an enormous biochemical chain reaction. For us to have free will, our consciousnesses would have to be capable of defying the laws of the natural universe. I wouldn’t say we’re ‘destined’, though, as destiny implies someone or something is purposefully directing the universe, and I don’t subscribe to that belief, either.

Some cheerful thoughts for the day! 🙂

(Caveat: I’m neither scientist nor philosopher, and all my views are based on my own limited understanding.)

sub-Q: One of the things our slushers noticed about this story was the way you write about a woman’s murder without fetishizing it. What goals did you have in mind when you set out to write about this topic?

Sunyi: I’m glad the intention came through; I did worry when querying it that the story would give the impression of glorifying violence against women.

The topic itself was sort of an accident. JKJ started out as a writing exercise that I set myself, to help me learn how plot points and character motivations interact. I read crime fiction (in addition to SFF) so murder felt like a natural choice of conflict.

But I also really dislike the Refrigerated Women trope, and wanted to pick it apart a little bit. John’s decision to kill isn’t excusable in any of his scenarios, and likewise the Game’s condemnation of him isn’t wrong. It recognises his guilt with perhaps more clarity than a human would. I think the Game’s voice-over interjections also helps to steer the narrative away from fetishisation, because the Game is actively guiding the reader towards neutral facts and away from John’s self-justification. Hopefully, anyway!

sub-Q: If you were a convicted criminal of the far-distant future, what would The Game(tm) hold for you?

Sunyi: I’d probably be found guilty of having created the Game in the first place, and thus impacting human society for the worse.

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